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  • John Curtis


THURSDAY: November 11, 2021: TERRY Croft doesn’t make regular trips to Port Macquarie meetings.

But his horses bear close watching when he does, as was evidenced again today.

The Hawkesbury trainer had only the one starter, $2.25 favorite Straya Pride, in the Maiden Plate (1500m) – and he delivered.

Ridden by Blake Spriggs, Straya Pride took up the running soon after the start and fought on gamely to hold out Newcastle stablemates Tiva Bay ($3.40) and Zippy Power ($21), the latter a daughter of 2014 Melbourne Cup winner Protectionist.

Croft’s victory with the four-year-old son of Denman was his fourth winner from seven starters at Port Macquarie.

Those wins include a fruitful double there in January last year with Just A Horse ($21), who upset $1.35 favorite Pride Of Adelaide, and Lu’s In Charge ($13).

Straya Pride races in the same colours as his dam, the Haradasun mare Harada Tan Tat, who Croft trained at the beginning of her career and won a 2Y0 race with her at Bathurst in 2013.

The gelding was having his 10th start today, and Croft was adamant he should have been in the winning list beforehand.

“He has been a bit stiff in a couple of his races, and should have won one or two,” he told Sky Thoroughbred Central.

Croft had hoped Straya Pride would settle no worse than midfield, but Spriggs wisely took things into his own hands when the pace was moderate and nothing else wanted to lead.

It proved to be a winning move as the gelding was able to stave off runner-up Tiva Bay’s determined challenge.

Straya Pride carried a last start third in provincial company on his home track on October 21 into today’s race, dropping back to country class.

Winner Carolina Fire subsequently finished second to Buba in a Benchmark 68 Handicap at Hawkesbury on November 4, and runner-up Deniliquin broke through over 1900m at Gosford on Tuesday.

Straya Pride was Croft’s third winner of the season, following on from Just A Brother and Hot Dancing, both at Hawkesbury on August 10 and October 21 respectively.

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